Part 3 of my free story about micro-chip implants and such.  Enjoy.

Static

—Chapter 3—

Jacob Gemmen was a financial genius.  Having worked his way up the ladder of success within many of the Silicone Valley tech companies, he had known a smart investment when he saw it.  And that investment had been Miles Olsen; one of the highest achieving graduates from MIT in their illustrious history.  Olsen’s test scores were so far off the charts, they hadn’t even had charts for him.  And Gemmen had found him first.

Olsen graduated at the top of his class, at the ripe old age of 19.  And the only reason he hadn’t graduated four years earlier was because there were more classes he had wanted to take.  It was 2010 and the iPad had just been released, taking the tech-world by storm.  Gemmen had found Olsen working on technology so far advanced that it would make the iPad look like a kids toy.  As Gemmen was already quite wealthy, he decided to approach Olsen and see if he would be interested in starting a company that would be able to bring this new technology to the masses.  Olsen, not being a financial genius, agreed to the partnership.  Thus Miles-Gemmen Corp was born.

Gemmen had offered up the finances to set them in a nice office, get them the equipment Miles had needed; he even let Miles decide on the corporate name.  It was these little things that Gemmen had learned were necessary to ‘sucker’ in the talent.  For make no mistake, it was always Jacob Gemmen’s intent to have the technology Olsen created, and he didn’t want to share in the profits.

MGC released a few minor tech devices just to get the public interested, thus allowing them to go public with their shares.  But it was always that ‘secret’ project Olsen was working on that helped Gemmen draw the big backers.

Olsen, on the other hand, was working long hours, rarely going home, and staying in the office to try out his new developing technology.  When under-skin implants for technological control were just starting to get momentum in 2013-2014 by the general techie population, Olsen had already been at it for a number of years; usually using himself as a guinea pig.  So when MCG was ready to finally release their new product, the Wrist Network, it took the world by storm.

Looking like a sleek, low-profile bracer for your wrist, the Wrist Network, in a matter of weeks, supplanted the iPad as the tech device of choice.  People were standing in lines that wrapped around the stores and weaved throughout the parking lots for days on end.  Stock in MCG went through the roof.  Gemmen was in his element, while all the hype and publicity was driving Olsen farther and farther into reclusiveness.

After the first six months of production, where they could hardly keep up with demand, MCG released a second version, which included the bio-link option.  Now, with a small implanted device just under the skin, the user could trigger certain functions of the Wrist Network without a single keystroke.  An entire new line of cosmetic surgery was born, as people were desperate to have that chip implanted in their hand.  MCG took a lot of negative press, in certain circles, for this device, as some of the conspiracy theorists speculated that this was a type of mind control being pushed by the government.  But Gemmen was up to the task, having hired the best spin doctors money could buy.  And they could afford it.  With that simple device, at least simple in the mind of Miles Olsen, the bio-link option had doubled their profit margin.  MCG was fast becoming the new Microsoft.  Everyone wanted a piece of the company.  And everyone had to answer to Jacob Gemmen; everyone including Olsen.

Gemmen had used his knowledge of financial law and had tricked Olsen out of the technical rights to his invention.  Gemmen, in a grand sweep, confiscated all Olsen’s notes, his computers, everything he had started to develop at the facility and had planted misinformation concerning his recent partner.  MCG was born in 2010, and by the end of 2016 it was a massive technological beast, owned and run by Jacob Gemmen.  He had managed to disgrace Olsen in the technology world with those falsified documents, he had wrangled complete control of the company, and he had removed Olsen completely from the corporation.  But not before Olsen had made a bit of money.

Since Olsen hadn’t really been “into the money” he had banked almost everything he had made in his short 6-year partnership with Gemmen.  His net worth was somewhere in the $400 Million range, but no one really knew that about him.  When he had been disgraced, he had dropped off the face of the earth, so to speak.  After a 7-month bout of depression, Olsen had emerged angry and driven.  Leaving the known technological world behind, he moved his meager possessions to a small, rural town, just outside of Clayton.  He had purchased an old Victorian-style home, a two-story affair with a disconnected garage, a large front porch replete with white rocking chairs and hanging baskets for show.  All this had been done using falsified personal information; it was very useful to be one of the best and brightest hackers around.

To his neighbors, he was just an eccentric young man that worked from home.  The name he had given them was Jacob Hass, ‘hass’ being the German word for ‘hatred’…and Jacob Gemmen was of German decent.  And although his home was surrounded on all sides by neighbors, as it was a fully functioning neighborhood, he had very little contact with them, as most of them were older and also kept to themselves.  So over the next few years, Olsen converted the basement of his home into a ‘beyond’ state of the art technological laboratory.  Using his computer skills and former connections, he tracked down and purchased enough hardware and software to make NASA jealous.  And he also dug a cell into the foundation of his basement.

That cell had originally been dug, by hand, to house Gemmen, but then Olsen’s plans changed.  While digging one night, taking a break from the upgrades he was working on for the Wrist Network, he had an idea.  Instead of just capturing and slowly killing Jacob, he would rather publically disgrace him; just as had been done to him.  Only the disgrace served up by Olsen would be ten-fold.

Miles Olsen had had a number of ideas that he’d told no one about, not even Gemmen.  And it was one of those ideas he started to work on in earnest.  Using his intellect that was so far beyond measure it was almost scary, he started to develop a way to convert brainwaves into a digital format that could be converted into human-readable format.  If he could come up with a way to administer a small electrical charge onto someone, such as a static shock, and have that impulse travel through that person’s nervous system, gather up all the ‘data’ on their mind at the time, and have it transmit back to the source…well, that would be something.  It would be like reading someone’s mind.  It had given Olsen goosebumps just thinking about all the information he could gather on his ‘test cases’.

__________

It felt good to be investigating something other than terrorists, thought Special Agent Weatherby to herself.  She had made the trip to Clayton after contacting Detective Mitchim to get some different information to review during the trip.  Now, on the seventeenth day of Glen Adam’s abduction, she and Detective Mitchim were spending the day reviewing every piece of video surveillance available for every victim.  It was a daunting task, but one that needed to be done for Weatherby to fully understand the situation.  Her specialty was criminal profiling, but this case was just too strange, as there was nothing by way of clues.

And it was that lack of clues that Weatherby was trying to focus on.  Some way, somehow, the criminal, or criminals, had been able to abduct, torture, kill and deposit ten previous victims without a single trace of evidence.  No witnesses, no notes, no nothing.  Currently Agent Weatherby was watching the last known video of Glen Adams, the current missing individual.  Mr. Adams had left work at the grocery store at 5:52am according to the information obtained from the time clock.  And sure enough, the security camera showed him leaving the building within minutes of that time.

Additional video footage from a Laundromat down the road showed him walking by, towards his home, at 6:10am.  The time and distance made sense; nothing out of the ordinary.  But that was it.  From the interviews of his friends, the police knew his path home.  There should have been two other videos of him walking home, and the angle of the cameras would have had overlapping video timestamps.  That was what bothered Special Agent Weatherby.  She knew something was missing, as did the police, but they just didn’t know what to make of any of it.

“I just don’t get it Sam,” said the special agent.  “How can he be there one minute and not there the next?  You see him on the video from the Laundromat at 6:10am, he turns the corner at just past 6:11am, where he is now out of screen for that video, and then you look at the video from the bank and he just isn’t there.  He should be seen walking around the corner at 6:11am on that video, but there’s nothing.”

“I know Laura; we’ve been over that time and time again.  And it’s not just him.  Every one of the victims has some video evidence of them walking home and they disappear.”

“Good thing I don’t believe in alien abductions,” said Laura as a joke.

“Heh…at least that would be something to go on.  We don’t even have that.”

“I know it’s hard Sam, but we’ll crack this case.  I promise.”  As she looked at the video again, only going frame by frame using a special machine from the agency, she noticed something strange.

“Hey Sam, take a look at this.”

Sam, looking up from the video he was watching, was intrigued.  He and his team had poured over every second of the video, many times, so if she had found something it would both exciting, but disappointing at the same time.

“Whatcha got?”

“Look at this video.  I think it has been tampered with.  See that shrub on the side there?  In this frame it is standing straight up, but in the next one it looks to be lying flat, as if it was stepped on.”

“Okay, it does, but what does that mean?”

“This is frame by frame Sam; that can happen like that in the milliseconds between frames.  You’d see the process of the shrub being bent; even if it was due to the wind.”

It was 2020, and technology had changed a lot over the years, so Sam quick looked at the new-fangled machine she had brought with her that allowed her to review the footage at this speed, and just shook his head.  He didn’t know what it meant, but it may be the break they’ve been looking for.  And all it would have taken was some new equipment that his office didn’t have the funds for.

“So what do you make of it?” asked Sam.

“To me it looks like the video has been tampered with.”

“We always assumed that,” replied Sam, “but we just didn’t have any evidence.”

“Whoever did this is good.  He, or she, has some serious high tech stuff to splice video like this.  If I hadn’t been able to slow it down and just happened to see that single branch…well, we may not have caught it.”

Sensing Sam’s disappointment at the discovery, she continued, “Sam, trust me when I say I totally understand what you’re thinking.  I’ve worked with outdated tech before.  With all the advances in technology over the years, we’re lucky we have this unit to use.  I had to ‘take’ it with me.  My boss probably wasn’t happy with me, but if it helps the case, so what.”

Shaking off the disappointment, Sam said, “I know Laura, I know.  I just think of the people that have already died with this case.  I’ve been at this for over ten months now…I’m just disappointed that the local cops are dealing with lesser equipment.  But, that is a different topic.  So, now what do we do?”

“I know a guy that can hopefully analyze this video, and any of the others we send to him.  It will probably take a while, but he’s a genius at this stuff.  Maybe he can find something from the electrical trace on the videos.  Aside from that, maybe we should take a trip to see this shrub for ourselves.”

__________

Glen was worried.  By his count, which may not be accurate since he really couldn’t remember much of his first days of captivity, he was on day 24.  He had read the news before becoming a victim.  None of the Electro-Killer’s victims lived longer than a month.  That gave him a week to figure a way out of the cell.  But that was proving difficult, as his captor, Miles Olsen…computer genius, was constantly asking him questions.

At first he hadn’t been allowed to speak, or else he would have been electrocuted.  He also hadn’t been given food and water during the first part of his captivity, but now there was plenty for him to eat.  It was as if Olsen were trying to bribe the answers to his questions from Glen.  But Glen took the offered food and water.  He didn’t care, as long as he wasn’t dead.  Glen was a smart man; well-educated and well-read.  He knew that the other victims had shown signs of extreme malnutrition and he also knew that the best way to keep from getting killed in this sort of situation was to befriend the captor and keep them talking.  So he ate the food and answered the questions.

He had also come up with a plan.  He knew that if the help worked, he’d most likely be dead.  But if it helped capture Olsen, then it would be worth it.  Using a sharp bit of cement that he had wiggled free from the wall of his cell, he had started to cut his arm when his captor wasn’t looking.  Fortunately he had been wearing a long sleeved shirt when he was captured.  If he died, at least the police would find his hidden message.

Insert picture here…

 

__________

In another part of the basement, out of the line of sight from the cell, Olsen sat at a bench.  Placed on the bench in front of him was a surgical scalpel, a small electromagnet, some gauze, a local anesthetic and a bottle of high-end whiskey.  Swabbing down his left hand, in the padding between the thumb and index finger, with the local anesthetic, he took a long pull from the whiskey bottle while he waited for the drug to take effect.  A couple minutes later he picked up the scalpel and poked his hand to see if it was numb.  Satisfied with the results, he clenched his left fist and expertly sliced open his hand.  Closing his eyes against the pain for a second, he placed the scalpel well out of range and picked up the electromagnet.  Switching it on as he placed it right over the cut, he hear the *clink* very quickly.  Moving the magnet back away from his hand, he grabbed the gauze to stop the bleeding.  Once pressure was applied, he tipped over the magnet and saw what he was looking for…a small metallic chip.

__________

The trip to the telltale shrub had produced nothing, but a week of painstaking video review had revealed four additional glitches in the video feeds.  Special Agent Weatherby and Detective Mitchim had spent every waking hour reviewing the footage, as they knew Glen Adam’s time was growing short.  It had now been 29 days, and they had yet to hear anything from Weatherby’s video specialist.  “Don’t worry Sam, he’ll figure it out.  He is the top specialist in the field.”

“I know he will Laura, but we’re on day 29.  We just don’t have the time to wait.”

“I know.  Hopefully the tracer he put on the server most of the town uses will help.  I know you hate to think this way, but if we lose Mr. Adams and the killer uses the same M.O., well we may get more information from that loss.”

“That’s a harsh way to gather information.”

“I know Sam, but it’s all we have.  You know times have changed over the years.  You and I would never have thought the loss of person was worth the information back in the day, but now…the Agency is willing to look the other way and lose that person if they get their end result.”

“But I’m not part of the Agency!”

“I know you’re not Sam.  But unfortunately I am, and I need to look at the big picture.  Trust me, it eats away at my soul every time I have to make a decision like this, but if we need to lose Mr. Adams to get to the killer, then I’ll do it.”

Shaking his head, he finally calmed himself enough to speak.  “I know Laura.  I understand and I do see the big picture, but I don’t have to like it.”

“Just keep that in mind Sam.  As long as you don’t like it, they haven’t completely won the war.”

__________

Glen woke up and saw that his captor had placed a muffin and a small glass of water on the table that was now standing just beyond the cell’s gate.  Looking around and not seeing Olsen, he grabbed for the muffin and water.  After inhaling every last crumb of it, he washed it down with the water.  It felt harsh on his sore throat, as he hadn’t eating or drank a thing in the last few days.  When he was finished, Olsen suddenly appeared.

“Did you enjoy your breakfast Glen?”

Not sure if this was one of the times where he was allowed to speak or not, he simply nodded ‘Yes’.

“You can speak today Glen.”

“Thank you,” Glen croaked, as his voice nearly gave out.

“You’re entirely welcome Glen.  Tell me, do you by chance know what day it is?”

Confused by the question, Glen said “No.”

“I’ll tell you what day it is; it’s day 30.  And you know what that means, right?”

A look of fear on his face, Glen started to back up farther into his cell.

“Where are you going?  You know you can’t escape, right?”

Pulling a small device the size of a garage door opener from his pocket, he again addressed his captive.  “Will you look at this Glen?  It’s what I’ve been working on for the past couple days.”

Glen, though deathly afraid, looked at the device anyway.  It was small and compact; no larger than an opener or a key fob.  Glen also noticed that Olsen’s left hand was bandaged up.  Olsen saw his captive glance at his hand and said, “Don’t worry about me.  I just needed to remove the implant from my hand.  Don’t want to get shocked unnecessarily, right?  So anyway, today is your 30th day in Casa Olsen, and that means it must be your last.  So I am going to show you my new invention.”

“No, please…”

“Hush now Glen, you said you were a techie.  Now you get to witness the newest Miles Olsen invention first hand.  You should be honored.”

As Glen again started to plead for his life, Olsen pushed the button on the small device.  Immediately after he pushed it, Adams started to convulse as an electrical current ran through his body.  Thirty seconds later, his body collapsed to the ground, dead.

“Hmm, that worked well,” said Olsen to the dead body.  “Maybe you shouldn’t eat muffins with microchips in them.  Not good for the system.”

Walking away from the cell, Olsen sat at his computer to enter some more information.  That had been the final test.  Now, he thought, on to the main event.

 

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